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Injured at work: OSHA rules aerial operator's death preventable

Colorado company owners and contractors are expected to follow safety regulations that are prescribed for each industry by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Whenever serious workplace accidents occur -- especially when lives are lost -- OSHA launches investigations to determine the company's compliance with federal and industry safety standards. The agency recently reported the results of an investigation into the death of an employee who was fatally injured at work in another state.

The incident occurred last August when a worker was ejected from the basket of an aerial lift. It was reported that the man was in the basket and operating the machine when the aerial lift toppled over. The impact of the basket hitting the ground reportedly caused the man to be catapulted 16 feet.

Investigators determined that the business owner failed to ensure that the ground on which the aerial lift was positioned was secure and level. The uneven base caused the machine to tip over. It was also found that the company failed to provide the worker with safety training that would have prepared him for recognizing the safety hazards. Investigators found that, although he was equipped with a safety harness, the lanyard was not attached to the boom or the basket.

OSHA proposed fines of $102,000 for this company's safety violations, and although such enforcement may punish negligent company owners, it does nothing for the family of a worker who died after being injured at work. However, assistance is available in the form of death benefits that may be claimed from the workers' compensation insurance system. The Colorado insurance program typically offers financial assistance with the costs of a funeral and burial, and it also offers a financial package based on the decedent's latest wage level to help dependents with living expenses and other obligations such as rent or mortgage payments.

Source: wpri.com, "OSHA: Deadly Taunton lift accident could have been prevented", Annie Shalvey, Feb. 22, 2016

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